Monday, July 2, 2018

Review: The Idea of You - Robinne Lee

The Idea of You: A Novel
by Robinne Lee
Published: June 13, 2017 by St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction

When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.

4.5 Stars

I’ve had The Idea of You on my Kindle for a little while, unsure sure when I would get a chance to read it, but my friends were leaving phenomenal reviews and I couldn’t ignore a book this popular for very long. If you know me, you know I love forbidden romance and The Idea of You features a unique forbidden storyline, one I’ve not read very often. Main character Solène Marchand is twenty years older than Hayes Campbell, the dreamy “swagger” one of boy band August Moon, her daughter’s greatest love. Solène, a cultured art gallery owner, finds herself escorting her young daughter Isabelle and two young friends to their concert one evening and in the tight stadium basement they meet the boys, with Hayes drawn to Solène immediately. What starts as lunch becomes a secret affair, their trysts taking place in several continents as they navigate the rough waters of lust transforming into something more. Solène attempts to protect Isabelle from the crazed fandom, but in time she must face the reality, that her romance is not just hers alone and it has caused a domino effect in the lives of those she cares for.

"They were bewitching, yes, but still flesh and blood."

I thought I would struggle to relate to main character Solène, her age and life experiences so different than my own, but Robinne Lee brings her to life and makes fame, and the heartaches that come with it, a tangible thing. Solène is still bruised from her divorce, struggling to parent a teen whose biggest interest is a boy band, and trying to find herself, her best self, again. She's jaded, unaware of her beauty and draw, and certainly not prepared for a twenty year old admirer willing to do anything for her. Hayes is the most handsome, dreamy boy band member you can picture; he’s also mature beyond his years and charming, so very charming. He lights Solène up, embracing her art, her daughter, her inability to travel with him daily. What starts simply soon grows to something beyond their control, a promise of something more is whispered, but it is obvious that Hayes wants Solène around all the time and Solène has no idea what comes with being the much older girlfriend of the number one member of August Moon. Her fears of judgement were once the biggest issue between them, but the fans hatred and the pain Isabelle is experiencing soon begin to feel insurmountable.

'Twenty,' I repeated, and then downed the rest of my champagne. One gulp."

"But at that moment his eyes caught mine and the charge was so strong, I had to look away."

The romance, the lust and chemistry they share, is nothing compared to the companionship they have together. I love how much we see them interact, the subtle shift we see in Solène and Hayes as each realizes lunch did not stay just lunch. We see Solène’s career, and even her daughter, take a backseat to the affair and we see when the walls start crumbling down, with Solène and Hayes none the wiser. Their romance is addictive; I too fell in love with the idea of them and Robinne Lee convinces us that the love can weather the fame. Of course, love and fame are not quite as glamorous as we believe and soon the rose-colored glasses are stripped away.

"I leaned into him then to kiss his cheek. Not an art world air-kiss, but the chance to press his skin against mine, breathe in his scent, and lock it in my memory. A little like stealing."

The Idea of You explores the difficulty of promises between two engaging characters who are so intelligent and who seem like puzzle pieces meant to be together. Solène and Hayes’ passion spilled from the pages and swept me up with it and the end left me hoping, leaving behing a massive book hangover. Robinne Lee tells a beautiful story with The Idea of You, The writing is descriptive, the art fairs, hotel rooms, and beach getaways coming to life as Solène and Hayes tangle their lives together. I could physically hear the piercing screams of the young girls when Solène first watches August Moon, specifically Hayes, enter the Las Vegas stadium. I never expected to be so engaged with this novel, but now, upon completion, I’m not sure there’s another book suitable to follow it. I want more, not just of Solène and Hayes, but more of the other band members too.

About the Author

ROBINNE LEE is an actor, writer and producer. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds. She recently completed shooting Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, playing Ros Bailey. Robinne currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. The Idea of You is her first novel.

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